Paul's Service to the Church
24I am glad I can suffer for you. I am pleased also that in my own body I can continue the suffering of Christ for his body, the church. 25God's plan was to make me a servant of his church and to send me to preach his complete message to you. 26For ages and ages this message was kept secret from everyone, but now it has been explained to God's people. 27God did this because he wanted you Gentiles to understand his wonderful and glorious mystery. And the mystery is that Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God's glory.
28We announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so all of Christ's followers will grow and become mature. 29This is why I work so hard and use the mighty power he gives me.
1I want you to know what a struggle I am going through for you, for God's people at Laodicea, and for all of those followers who have never met me. 2I do it to encourage them. Then as their hearts are joined together in love, they will be wonderfully blessed with complete understanding. And they will truly know Christ. Not only is he the key to God's mystery, 3but all wisdom and knowledge are hidden away in him. 4I tell you these things to keep you from being fooled by fancy talk. 5Even though I am not with you, I keep thinking about you. I am glad to know that you are living as you should and your faith in Christ is strong.
The Apostle Paul had an amazing ministry. He opened up the Gentile world to the Gospel, planted churches throughout Asia Minor, defended the faith before all and sundry, persevered through persecution, dealt with conflict, warned God’s people about the lies of the devil, taught the truth, and laboured to the point of exhaustion. He endured a shipwreck, beatings, public humiliation, assassination attempts, prison, deprivation, afflictions and ridicule in order to preach the message of Christ and the cross.
How did Paul do what he did? Why was he so successful? Because Christ was preeminent in his ministry. Paul’s ministry, while it involved him, wasn’t ultimately about him. Paul did what he did because he served Christ (1:23). He was successful in ministry because Christ was in him, the hope of glory (1:27) and because he depended fully on the “mighty power” God gave him (1:29).
Paul’s life is a testimony to the fact that when Christ is preeminent then the Saviour we serve will always be bigger than the challenges we encounter. Are you facing hardships and difficulties in your ministry? Take your lead from Paul. Keep on struggling (2:1), continue to encourage others (2:2a), work to help people to “truly know Christ” (2:2b), don’t be “fooled by fancy talk” (2:4), and live as you should by keeping your faith firmly in Christ (2:5).
Lord, help me to work hard and use the mighty power you give me (1:29). And help me to do everything I do in a way that reveals Christ’s pre-eminence in my life. Amen.